By Shahram Akbarzadeh
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Additional info for Islam and Political Violence: Muslim Diaspora and Radicalism in the West
6 Talking about Islam in general, I dissociate myself from the claim of one essential Islam, be it in the positive sense (religion of peace and tolerance) or in the negative sense (religion of jihadism, as understood by jihadist Islamists). In social and historical realities, Islam is reflected by Muslim societies as taking different shapes on all levels. In this study of Islam, the point of departure therefore is to address the two pending issues of security and xenophobia in terms of facts, not within the framework of religious texts.
Many Muslims believe, rightly or wrongly, that there is a deliberate attempt, especially from the US and Israeli side, to paint Islam as a religion promoting violence, terrorism and anti-modernity rather than openness to progress, tolerance and peaceful co-existence, which have by and large marked its historical existence. The invasion of Iraq and the mishandling of its transformation, at the cost of destroying the Iraqi state and inflicting heavy casualties on the Iraqi civilian population, have reinforced a growing view among many of them that the Bush Administration is anti-Arab and anti-Muslim.
9 The spectrum ranged from those wishing to re-establish a purified religious-political institution (though responding to the distortions of the late Ottoman experience), to those who thought the fusion of religious and political authority was counter-productive or even dangerous, through to accommodationists who saw the best way of adapting to post-war conditions as the creation of an international organisation among sovereign ‘Muslim states’. This intellectual diversity merely reflected underlying political differences, despite what was thought to be a common religious sentiment.